Kotlet Schabowy (pron. ‘caught-let s-hab-ovy’) is a Polish-style Breaded Cutlet, made of pork loin (called ‘schab’ in Polish).
The recipe involves pounding a piece of meat into tender submission, and then submerging it in milky, oniony brine – ideally overnight. The next day, the meat gets lightly coated in a flour, egg and breadcrumb mixture, and then quickly pan-fried.
The breading gives these cutlets the crispiest golden exterior; while hiding a soft, satisfyingly meaty interior. Served with young potatoes and a refreshing cucumber salad, it makes a wonderful dinner combo.
For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.
It may be hard to believe, but one of the most popular dishes of Polish cuisine has a relatively short history.
Schabowy made its first appearance on the Polish tables only sometime in the 19th century. Most likely, it was a budget-friendly answer to the original (veal-based) Viennese schnitzel.
However, Schabowy’s popularity only peaked some decades later. After World War II, as a part of the Communist’s economic plan, pork became one of the pillars of local agriculture.
At that difficult time, Schabowy became the symbol of ultimate luxury.
Today, even though pork loin is readily available in any store, this Polish-style Pork Cutlet has kept its cult status. When cooked with love and care (like we’re cooking over here), it makes a wonderful, classic Sunday meal.
•“Kanon Kuchni Polskiej”(“the Canon of Polish Cuisine”), published by the National Institute of Rural Culture and Heritage. Digital version (in Polish) available here.
• “Kotlet Schabowy” article by Magdalena Kasprzyk-Chevriaux on culture.pl (in Polish)
Do you need any special ingredients or equipment to make this Pork Cutlet?
No, everything should be easily available in any major store.
You’ll need 2 pounds of boneless pork loin (or loin chops). As much as I encourage frugal shopping – in this case, it’s really worth spending a bit more for a higher quality meat.
🇵🇱 In Poland, ask the butcher for a loin of Puławska, Złotnicka or Mangalica (Mangalitsa) breeds.
🌍 Internationally, if you can find pasture-raised pork, you’re golden!
What should you serve with Schabowy?
Schabowy is traditionally served with potatoes – either boiled, roasted or mashed; often garnished with freshly chopped dill or parsley. You could also serve it with potato fries or wedges.
Other popular veggie sides include: Mizeria (Cucumber salad), Dill Pickles, warm grated beetroots, oven roasted veggies, carrots and peas, braised and fried sauerkraut or braised sweet cabbage (red or green).
Leftover Schabowy can be used in sandwiches, between two layers of bread, with a dollop of mustard and a few lettuce leaves.
Sauces: In Poland, we don’t usually offer any sauces with Schabowy – the crispy layer of crust tends to turn soggy when it’s accompanied by a wet sauce. But if you would like to add some anyway, I would suggest hollandaise, creamy mushroom sauce or a spoonful of a homemade mayo.
You could also simply deglaze the pan after frying, with a heaped spoon of sour cream and a splash of stock. Add some salt and chopped dill, and a quick sauce is made.
I hear reports (from across the pond) that the ranch sauce is a popular choice as well.
Drinks: In terms of beverages, these Pork Cutlets pair well with Kompot (homemade fruit drink), Polish beer or fruit juices. If you would like to serve it with wine, Polish sommeliers recommend dry whites.
Can you make these Polish-style Pork Cutlets another way?
Yes. The milk-brining process could be skipped, but it really makes a difference – so I do encourage you to try it.
You could also omit the flour, and go directly with beaten egg and breadcrumbs. Classic breadcrumbs can be replaced with panko, crushed cornflakes or ground nuts.
And while frying in lard can sound weird, it really adds more flavour. Clarified butter is a good choice too. Alternatively, you could use any other neutral cooking oil, such as canola.
As for air-frying: I haven’t tried it yet, but don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Perhaps only the cutlet’s size would be limiting, but you could make them smaller.
What diets is this Schabowy suitable for?
This recipe is suitable for a traditional diet. If you would like to make it gluten-free, try using gluten-free breadcrumbs.
How long can you keep this Pork Cutlet in the fridge?
Once you’ve served these Pork Cutlets, don’t leave them out for more than 3-4 hours.
To refrigerate, allow any leftovers to cool completely. Then wrap them in cling film or move them into a container with a lid. Store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Can I freeze this Schabowy?
Yes you can, some homecooks even say they can’t even taste the difference.
Sadly, in my experience, that’s not exactly the case. The breadcrumbs tend to absorb moisture during their time in the freezer. In turn, that makes them less crispy, and more likely to fall off the meat later on.
But please don’t let me discourage you, do test for yourself:
To freeze after cooking, make sure the cutlets are completely cooled down. Then simply wrap each one in cling film and place them all together in a freezer-safe container or a zip-bag.
Another method is more eco-friendly: lay the cutlets in a single layer on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other. Freeze for one hour and then transfer them into a freezer-friendly bag.
To freeze the raw, breaded cutlets, you can proceed the same way: gently wrap each one individually, and pack together into a box or a bag that’s suitable for freezing.
Make sure to label them with a description and the date. Aim to consume within 3 months.
How do I reheat these Pork Cutlets?
From chilled: Bake in a single layer for 20 minutes at 175˚C (350˚F, without fan-assist), covered with a sheet of aluminum foil. Before serving, check if they’re warm throughout. For a crispier result, remove the foil a few minutes before ending.
Alternatively, you can reheat them on a non-stick pan (without any added fat) on a low heat. It shouldn’t take longer than 10-12 minutes to become warmed throughout.
From frozen: Don’t leave cutlets to thaw, the breading is likely to fall off.
Reheat them directly in the oven, as per instructions above, extending the baking time by 10 minutes.